It all seemed so positive – until the facts got in the way.
Theresa May announced a new “long-term plan” (they like talking about long-term plans; remember their long-term economic plan that sank us into £1.7 trillion of debt?) for the NHS on Sunday. Here’s here Twitter feed:
“The #NHSLongTermPlan will reinforce the NHS as a world leading health system when it comes to the money it spends on mental health services and the support and treatment it offers those who need it.” – PM @Theresa_May pic.twitter.com/mbDuaMgOka
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) January 6, 2019
And here’s the pretty video clip the Conservatives released to go with the announcement, full of empty slogans:
? Our #NHSLongTermPlan will:
? Support ageing & increasing independence.
? Provide the best maternity care in the world.
? Improve outcomes for all major conditions.
? Bring the NHS into the digital age.
? Increase the NHS workforce.
? Cut waste across the NHS.
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) January 7, 2019
About the only concrete announcement was one we’d had already – that the NHS budget is to rise by £20bn a year above inflation by 2023, although a detailed explanation of how that funding will be provided has not been forthcoming. Last June, Mrs May said it would arise from increased taxes and the so-called “Brexit dividend” – an increase in available money due to the UK’s departure from the EU.
Unfortunately for her, simple mathematics has shown that this “Brexit dividend” is fictional.
So it seems unlikely that all of the aims Mrs May has laid out for the new 10-year plan will be met. They include:
- Better mental health care, including round-the-clock advice from NHS 111 by 2023 and tailored services for young adults. Currently once someone in care turns 18 they are thrust into the adult system, often when they are not ready
- Providing the best maternity care in the world by improving safety and providing greater mental health support for new parents. One in five new mothers struggles with mental health in the first year of her baby’s life
- Greater control and choice in old age by expanding the use of personal budgets to allow people to decide what care they want, and greater support in the community so people do not end up in hospital
- Better prevention and detection of disease – cancer is expected to be a key focus with an ambition to increase the number of early detections from one in two cancers to three in four, which in turn will improve survival
- Increases in the NHS workforce – currently one in 11 posts is vacant
- Bringing the NHS into the digital age, including online GP booking, prescriptions management and health records
- Oh, and let’s not forget the promised improvements to social care, after that was brought under the control of the Department of Health. A Green Paper was promised in 2017 and still hasn’t appeared.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock set the real agenda in an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky:
He said the plan is to place the blame for poor health on patients.
Obviously he didn’t reveal it in such bald terms; this is the age of spin, of the ‘nudge’ unit, of propaganda. So he put it this way: “The whole purpose of the NHS over the next 10 years needs to shift towards helping people to stay healthy, as much as curing them when they’re ill.”
“Helping” people. Is that like the DWP “helping” people towards work by denying them the benefits their taxes have funded throughout their working lives, pushing them towards destitution (and in some cases prostitution) if they don’t accept low-pay, no-benefit, substandard excuses for jobs?
You see, we’ve heard these lines before.'
Read more: New Tory NHS plan is to tell you your health problems are your fault